Tag Archives: FriendFeed

Big shifts in microblog/social networking world

What a week in the microblog world.

First Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had a ton of really nasty articles written about him after his CFO left and was replaced. My take? Zuck got the service to 200 million and he’s one of the smartest businesspeople I’ve met. He’s also young and has definite ideas of where he’d like to take Facebook. He also has investors that he has to listen to at least a little bit. Add all that up and it’s a spot I’m glad I’m not in. That said Zuckerberg and crew are so close to the gold that their metal detectors must be going nuts. Now they have to execute and get show us how they are going to add businesses to the social graph and also how they are going to build public entities so that they can take the hype away from Twitter. If they get those two done, they’ll cash in big time. But those are two big ifs, especially if there are major management troubles like what some of the bloggers are sensing.

The second big shift this week was Mike Arrington’s reporting that Twitter is in talks with Google to be sold for a quarter billion dollars. First, disclosure: I really don’t like Twitter’s management team. I think they have more problems than Zuckerberg. They treat their community even worse than Facebook does. Their technology has been horrid (and still has major problems, when I refresh Twitter 100 times I see a Fail Whale at least five times, if not more). But, no one can argue the fact that Twitter has gotten more PR in the past 30 days than any other company I can remember getting in the past year. Everytime I turn on TV or Radio lately I hear “we just Tweeted.” That alone is worth a ton and they deserve to be compensated for yet again building a great brand. Why does Google want Twitter? Easy, search features. How did I learn about the Chinese earthquake? Well, that was by accident (I was the first American to tell someone else about the earthquake) because I follow so many people. But what did I do after that? I went to http://search.twitter.com and started watching what everyone was saying about the earthquake. Today tons of people do that or use tools like Twhirl and Tweetdeck to do those searches.

Lots of my friends think that this search behavior will let Microsoft get back into the search game if Microsoft bought Twitter. Heck, Todd Bishop just wrote that too. Unfortunately Steve Ballmer doesn’t understand Twitter (he isn’t on it and probably thinks that’s yet another stupid thing that Scoble uses) so he probably won’t see the value here. Ballmer has done a horrid job at getting Microsoft into the search game, so I’ll be shocked if he wakes up and buys Twitter. Of course just by saying that I probably made Ev and Biz a few hundred million dollars more — if Microsoft and Google get into a bidding war valuations on Twitter could go up to a billion or more. Pretty rich territory for a service that has only 10 million users in the United States.

The third shift? It actually is coming on Monday as friendfeed brings out a completely new UI. I saw it last night and I’m still stunned (mostly in a good way, but change is always exhausting). I’m not sure I’ll like it all, but you’ll definitely want to watch the video I shot of the press conference and I will have a LOT more to say on this on Monday morning. I’m under embargo until Monday, but the video is long and they go into tons of details about the new UI and their business.

What a week in social networking/microblogging. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

Scoble responsible for destroying the utility of the social graph

The other day I was talking with someone who works at Facebook. She and I were having a fun conversation about number of followers and all that. At one point she emailed back that I was “destroying the utility of the social graph.”

How did I do that? By adding people who actually were not my “real” friends.

I asked her to define “real.”

Anyway, this morning, in the comments of my Facebook post I saw a comment from someone named “facebook user” that said “people may not be leaving, but i know plenty of folks who are trimming their friend lists down to true personal friends.”

Ahh, have you ever thought that this is behavior that Facebook wants you to do?

After all, how can they recommend the best sushi restaurant to you if you’ve added people you don’t even know?

Hint: the Facebook employee is right. I have destroyed the utility of the social graph — from her point of view. But I’m there to study patterns of early adopter behavior. For ME my social graph brings me stuff that no one else’s social graph brings.

Which points to what I want in the future: multiple social graphs for different things.

See, I know that Dori Smith (she’s one of the two people who convinced me to start blogging) is a Javascript expert who works in Sonoma. So, I bet she’s also somewhat expert on wine. But, I doubt she’s expert on baby strollers or Half Moon Bay restaurants. So, I want to add her to my “wine” social network. Who would be #1 there? Gary Vaynerchuk, owner of winelibrary.tv, of course. He knows more about wine than anyone else I know.

I really hate the word “friend.” It has no meaning anymore. No one can define what a friend is. Believe me, I’ve asked dozens of people to define it for me. My wife is my most “true” friend, for instance but if you trust her with picking a great wine (she doesn’t drink much) or picking a great sushi restaurant (she hates the stuff) you’ll be very disappointed. You’d be better off asking @garyvee about the wine even though you’ve never met him and he probably wouldn’t be listed among your “true” friends.

This is one reason why I like Twitter and friendfeed. Friendfeed in particular lets me follow different people with different contexts. I can put @garyvee into a “wine” folder, for instance. But I can also put him into “social media innovators.” Twitter doesn’t let me do that, but Twitter also doesn’t try to force me to subscribe to only my “true” friends.

Anyway, in the past eight years I’ve met many thousands of people face-to-face. Just last week I sent off more than 1,000 business cards to Allen Stern’s new business, CloudContacts (and that’s only a small fraction of the ones I’ve collected since I’ve started blogging). His business is scanning them and will build me a new social graph that I’ll bring into friendfeed and other places to study. I can’t wait.

Regarding whether I’ve destroyed the utility of the social graph: that’s up to me to decide, not you. Not Facebook. Not my commenter. I get great utility out of what I’m doing. I see patterns before most other people do and those patterns are getting more and more useful. A year ago I didn’t have the ability to search Tweets or friendfeed items. Today I have very rich search features so I can go through my like feed, for instance, and find every item that mentions Evernote.

Think that’s not important? Well, Feedly, a company that makes a small toolbar that sits at the bottom of Firefox, is using friendfeed’s search API to find people who’ve said stuff about the pages you’ve visited. This is a new kind of application that simply was not possible a year ago.

Yeah, I’ve destroyed the utility of the social graph, but on the other side is a whole new world that I’m discovering has great utility. You must destroy before you can build. Go have fun with your social graph and stop taking this friend thing too seriously. :-)

New Feedly combines Google Reader, friendfeed, Twitter in great way for social network addicts

Edwin Khodabakchian founder of Feedly yesterday showed me why Feedly is cool (I recorded him telling me about what makes Feedly special and demoing these new features): it combines inputs from Google Reader, friendfeed, twitter, and elsewhere to make an interesting news display, but now it also — as you surf around the web — shows you if there’s a conversation about that blog post on friendfeed. You can read more about Feedly’s new features on its blog.

What is Feedly? It’s an addon to the Firefox browser that aggregates your sharing behavior together into a page and then adds a little bar to the bottom of pages that gives you more sharing and comparing features about that page.

It also is like a little StumbleUpon — if you keep clicking “next” in the little toolbar it’ll take you to another cool site your friends have recommended to you.

This is all crack to someone like me who lives on social networking sites all the time and wants to keep up to date on the conversation that is happening over on friendfeed about items.

But that’s also its downfall. How many people are like me? Not many. Do many people, when they are visiting a web page, wonder what the conversation about that page is? Nah.

And, if you see my Feedly page you’ll see it really is awesome. A good, quick, summary of today’s latest news. I think it’s better than Techmeme or TechFuga because it’s based on my friends and the feeds I’ve subscribed to on Google Reader.

See in Google Reader I have almost 1,000 people who are scouring the Internet for interesting new stuff and are sharing it with me. That is like having 1,000 editors working for you. It makes for a news page that’s quite interesting and amazing.

The problem? How many people have 1,000 friends in Google Reader? Not many.

Two strikes.

That’s why I say Feedly is ahead of its time. At least with friendfeed you can see what someone else’s experience is like, even if you don’t have any friends. I hope Feedly will move in that direction so everyone can see what Louis Gray’s friends are bringing him, for instance.

But, in the meantime, Feedly is very interesting to me and it has been added to my morning news reading.

Read/Write Web has a good article on the new features as well.

Is the real-time web a threat to Google search?

Is the Real-Time Web a threat to Google? Rackspace executive Lew Moorman sure thinks so.

He’s right. Fewer and fewer of my search behaviors have been on Google lately.

And last week friendfeed did something very important: made it a lot more possible to do powerful real-time web searches.

First, the problem with friendfeed is it is too geeky. But ignore that problem for a moment, because if they don’t get it right, or make it something that the mainstream wants, well, you’ll see the same kind of search show up on Facebook (which has been making moves lately to be much more open) or Twitter.

So, why is this stuff working?

Well, because it’s with your friends and THEIR behaviors. Your friends are a lot more trustworthy than anyone else. How do I know that? Because while I was in Davos George Colony, CEO of Forrester handed me the results of a report they did on Trust and they found that people you know are the most trusted. Far more than corporate or personal blogs. Yes, I know you don’t trust me that much. That’s OK. I don’t trust your blog much either. :-)

But, if I know you (thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and friendfeed I have gotten to know thousands of you) I can build a much better recommendation engine.

Oh, and even more troubling for Google is that Facebook and friendfeed have a lot more metadata to study.

What is metadata? It is data about data. Well, in Google’s case, the metadata is the linking behavior of people in the web.

But look just on friendfeed. What’s the metadata there? Everytime I click “like,” something I’ve done more than 16,000 times now, I’m adding metadata. Everytime I add a comment, something I’ve done more than 8,000 times now, I’m adding metadata.

What other metadata is there? Well, they still can study linking behavior. I can link to my discussion of how cloud computing will change programmer behavior, for instance.

What else? Well, friendfeed knows how many of my friends also liked that item. They also know how many people clicked on that item (although they haven’t surfaced that information yet).

So, now, let’s look at search.

First, if I need to know who the best retailer is to buy, say, a Canon 5D Mark II, is it better to ask the people I know, like I did here on friendfeed, or go to Google and deal with the SEOs? Try doing that search over on Google. I did. Do you find a single retailer? I didn’t.

So, now, let’s get to friendfeed’s search.

Let’s do a search for anyone who has written about the Canon 5D MK II but lets constrain that to posts that have at least one like and at least four comments. Here’s the search. Note that the post I wrote just one minute ago is already in the results page. This is the real-time web.

Google won’t see that friendfeed item for hours and, even if Google’s spiders index it Google does not have enough metadata to study to let it do this kind of search.

Let’s keep going.

How is this for searching news? Well, right now Australia is burning. So, let’s search for “Australia fires” but lets constrain that search to anything that has five or more likes and five or more comments. Note the quality of the conversation that comes back.

How am I doing this? With friendfeed’s advanced search.

But it gets better than that.

How about we search for all Tweets that talk about the Australian Fires? We can do that.

“But can’t search.twitter.com do that better?” Well, yes, but can it also just show you all the Google Reader items people have shared? Like friendfeed can? No.

Can Google search show you all the Upcoming.org events that mention SXSW? No, but friendfeed search can.

Can you easily see all the YouTube videos that have the word Grammy in them? Probably over on YouTube you could do that. But can you now constrain the videos to the ones that have gotten some comments? With friendfeed you can.

But try doing THIS with Google: try finding everytime Dave Winer has commented on an item about netbooks. On friendfeed that’s easy. On Google? They don’t have the metadata to study.

Now, keep in mind that there aren’t many people on friendfeed yet. The numbers of comments there are not even close to enough to make all searches satisfying. But, look at friendfeed’s competitor Facebook. They have more than 150 million users already. What if Facebook were to get a search like friendfeeds?

Now do you start to see why I’m using Google less and less?

Lew Moorman is right.

Oh, and I got lots of answers to my Camera question before I was even done with writing this post.

UPDATE: you can search for “threats to Google” on friendfeed with this search. Fun to watch the comments come in!

Friendfeed passes million visitor mark, TechCrunch reports

Interesting, Techcrunch reports that Friendfeed has passed the million visitor mark and has grown 10 fold in just the past few months. That matches my experience as well. I currently have 26,009 followers, which is incredible growth for a service that I’ve been on for 11 months. Now you know why I’m so addicted to the service.

For anyone new to friendfeed you should watch the video linked to off of this friendfeed item.

UPDATE: I made a mistake in calling “visitors” “members.” Louis Gray pointed that out to me, so did Jeremy Toeman. I have corrected this post.

Things I've learned by clicking "like" 15,301 times

Mike Arrington is right. I am addicted to friendfeed and it’s very difficult to pry myself away from it and do a more serious blog. I now have 15,300 reasons why I am so addicted.

It is called “Like.” But clicking “Like” doesn’t mean I actually like that item. It means I want YOU to see it.

People ask me why so many people follow me. (26,000 on friendfeed, 50,000 on Twitter, 5,000 on Facebook).

This is why: I shine my flashlight on other people. So far in the past 11 months I’ve done it 15,300 times.

Most other A list bloggers that you know never even try to link out and tell their readers about other people doing great work this way.

Some things I’ve learned?

1. I’m more likely to share items from people I’ve met face-to-face. Why? There’s a social reciprocity aspect to it. If I’ve met you at a conference I know you a little more reliably than other people I haven’t met.
2. There is some overlap with TechMeme because I have similar interests but my likes tend to be far smaller stories than will ever get onto TechMeme. Things that will make you smarter, but aren’t big news items that’ll attract a lot of links. Things like Tim Ferriss’ post about how to learn any language in three months.
3. More “independent” voices make it onto my list than onto TechMeme.
4. I like racing TechMeme. Often I can beat it with a like by half an hour or more. But lots of times it beats me. Which, brings me to #5.
5. I don’t get nervous anymore about missing things. Why? Because I am following 13,000 people on friendfeed and they will keep bringing back important things. Plus, important things get onto TechFuga and TechMeme. I call my behavior “media snacking.” If I have time I’ll snack on different stuff from around the Internet.
6. After I like something I can see how other people respond to it, so I can refactor my likes. If people hate a like, or tell me I messed up, I will use that info in future likes.
7. Likes are searchable. If I search for someone’s name on the Everyone tab anything they’ve liked will come up in the search. Which brings me to the next item.
8. Likes are metadata that improves the original item. How? Well, for instance, in friendfeed I can hide all Tweets that don’t have a like. That makes finding interesting tweets DRAMATICALLY easier.
9. By having all my 26,000 followers on friendfeed see the items I like (it puts them into their view) I find that I am getting to know my followers in a much more intimate way than if we just tweeted at each other. On a separate page you can see all the items I’ve commented on, to see this in action.
10. Likes can overwhelm people. I am liking about 700 things a week. Many people just can’t deal with that flow (and it gets far worse the more people you follow on friendfeed). That’s why I say on friendfeed it is hugely important to be very careful who you follow. I recommend putting noisy likers like me into a separate list, which will help you get more value out of us.

What do you think? Does this behavior help you? Or do you think it’s lame?

Steve Jobs' bad news heralds the real-time web age

UPDATE: yes, I’m insensitive, but this post isn’t an editorial opinion about Steve Jobs, just a note about how his news spread and how his announcement brought into focus the real-time web. Tragedies and bad news tend to focus our attention and bring into relief how our world has changed. I remember how 9/11 did that for blogs. Today the bad news surrounding Apple’s CEO and co-founder brought a new development into our focus: the real-time web.

As I said in my earlier post, I wish Steve and his family all the best.

+++

I’m sure that Steve Jobs didn’t want his announcement to be one of the seminal events that ushers in the real-time web age, but what just happened today will be remembered for years to come.

What happened? While CNBC was reporting it on TV the real-time-web was going nuts. Passing along little tidbits. Stories. Links. Rumors. And all that. It was interesting, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.

There were 40 Tweets coming in every three or four seconds on Twitter search. And it stayed up!

Friendfeed was going nuts (that’s where I saw the news first).

While I wrote this post, which only took about a minute or two, 191 new Tweets came in.

But this points to some dangers and problems:

1. If you aren’t online there’s no “warning” system that something is happening. I wish I could tell Twitter to SMS me whenever a “high flow” event is underway.

2. It’s hard to separate out the real facts, from the fiction. I have a better filter than most people. I know who is credible based on past experience with them. Quick, who is more credible, Allen Stern or Ralph Sanders. I am following both and know who Allen is. Ralph? Not so much and I’ve never seen him involved in a breaking news story.

3. Our mechanisms for tracking stories and important tweets are really lame. Right now, hours after the news has broken, there are TONS of tweets coming through the system. Hundreds every few minutes. But, in that stream of “noise” is there any “news?” Yes. I’ve been clicking “like” on the best ones that I see, but I can’t see them all, so we need an even better system that lets the crowd expose the best tweets and friendfeed messages. I like friendfeed a lot more because it shows blogs and photos and youtube videos and other things instead of just tweets. All of those will play a major part in many news stories (like, say, a big fire or an earthquake).

Anyway, thank you to Steve Jobs for demonstrating to lots of people that real-time news is indeed important and that blogs are not the only way to go. Now you understand why I invested so much time in friendfeed and twitter last year.